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Prepping for the Hot Season: Gutter Guards Keep Out Debris and Leaves Which Are a Major Fire Hazard

August 3, 2017

Many people know that faulty electric wiring, power cords neglected by homeowners and pets with the urge to chew stuff can all cause house fires. Only a few people, however, may be aware that unchecked build-up of dried leaves in gutters can cause blazes, too. While wet vegetation may be the major cause of gutter deformities and wear, dried leaves pose the greater danger as real fire hazards, with the very real possibility of bringing an entire house down if left unattended—particularly during dry seasons in arid areas like California.

Woodsmen and rangers alike know well that dry leaves can ignite with a single spark and are sufficient in creating wildfires big enough to set surrounding million dollars-worth of properties ablaze. Dried leaves and twigs from nearby trees can accumulate inside gutters that aren’t protected with leaf gutter guards; upon ignition, a fire will expose the fascia or the roof sheathing. Depending on the wood condition or the presence of a metal flashing, it can enter the attic and ultimately consume the entire property. 

For greater safety, the University of California recommends the use of metal gutters over plastic gutters in fire-prone areas. This is because unlike vinyl or plastic gutters which quickly fall to ground during ignition, metal gutters will stay in place, thus keeping the fire at the roof edge and away from surrounding mulch, vegetation, and wood piles that can speed up combustion. The University of California also advises homeowners to have a noncombustible/low flammability zone (using noncombustible rock mulch) around their properties if they have installed vinyl gutters to slow fire growth in case of combustion.

Regular gutter cleaning is a must to reduce the likelihood of fire occurrence. If you know you’re not fit or equipped enough to do gutter cleaning yourself, consider hiring the pros. These specialists have the appropriate knowledge and necessary tools to get the burden of gutter cleaning off your back.  It would also be best to install micro mesh gutter covers, which you can purchase from companies like GutterDome, to keep fire hazard leaves from accumulating inside your rain gutters for reduced cleaning time and cost.